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March 27, 2023

Call of Destiny v4p10

By Josh Brown

Dust in the Wind - Part Ten

One-eye took Adara's death better than Brand had expected. He never came right out and said it, but Brand was sure One-eye knew Adara was going to die soon and had there been more to their relationship then just captain and first officer they'd probably already said their good-byes. That more than anything was why Brand noticed, after the fact, that One-eye was nowhere to be seen during the fateful aftermath of Megan's death.

The announcement of Adara's death shook the camp pretty hard. More than a few people had fainted. The goodness that had been taught to them was put the bitter test when they found out the cause of Adara's death, but Brand was something of a legend now. Much to his dismay, people accepted that Brand killed Adara more easily than they accepted that she was dead. Being a Wielder had apparently made him equal with Adara, perhaps even greater than Adara, in the eyes of the people.

Brand, Buba, and Lisya all crashed hard. They slept the rest of the night, through the next day and awoke to the gentle prodding of One-eye.

"Brand, it's almost time for the burning."

Brand reluctantly rose from his cot. One-eye remained near, watching him without twitching a muscle. He looked very much like a garden gnome to Brand in that moment and it took everything Brand had to keep from chuckling. There was a sadness in One-eye's eyes that touched Brand.

He walked over to One-eye and knelt down. "I didn't get to say this before, but I'm sorry. I had no right to do what I did, prophecy or not. Nothing can excuse my actions."

One-eye gave Brand a wink. It was a half-hearted wink but a wink nonetheless. "I accept, Brand. She and I both knew it was her time. It's still hard, though. I don't need to tell you that. You know just as well as I do."

Brand nodded. They were alike in that way, at least. Both had just lost the love of their life. As he stood back up, he couldn't help but wonder why One-eye wasn't part of the group. He'd never find out that One-eye passed away shortly after the funeral.

Two neat piles of wood stood across each other with the burning center piece of the camp dividing them. Upon each pile, a body wrapped from head to toe in brilliantly white cloth rested peacefully. Buba, Brand, Lisya and One-all all stood at the head of pyres with the crowd standing on the other side.

As the flames shot through the wood, engulfing the bodies, Brand tried not to think about the loss of his lover and their unborn child. It was a losing battle that he willingly surrendered too. His mind drifted over memories he'd long forgotten. Little things that always caught his attention melted into his present thoughts, stirring his emotions in unwanted yet wanted ways.

Next to him, Lisya slipped her arm around Buba's and rested lightly against him. Brand saw a friendship there he couldn't explain. They'd been together for a long time with nobody else to interact with. That had to do something to make people closer. Their closeness reminded him of Megan and how much they'd drifted apart in commonality yet still remained closely knit and in love (despite their trying to deny the love).

The mournful crowd was full of tears and heartache, half of which Brand had caused. This made him feel uneasy. His stomach churned with nausea. The smell of burning flesh didn't help matters much but he endured it. He forced himself to keep from getting sick. It was the least he could do. Adara would be seen off with the dignity her long-lasting life deserved.

For miles in all directions there was nothing but dead land. Before the funeral had begun, Brand had heard whisperings that Adara had turned her back on the gods and killed all the trees for miles in every direction. There was probably more to the story than that. Brand didn't know, though. All he knew were the rumors that didn't make much sense when he considered Adara prepared for her own death. If she'd turned her back on the gods, then why would she still prepare to die?

"By turning her back on the gods, she lost her place in the heavens. She died a mortal's death because of her decisions," the sword said softly from its new sheath attached to Brand's belt. "Had she not, she would have been reborn in her godly body and she would be roaming the heavens like the gods."

One-eye, Buba and Lisya all looked over for a moment. One-eye simply nodded his head in agreement. "She wanted no part in their games anymore. She told me she'd lived among the humans and now she wanted to die and remain among them in the afterlife."

Brand respected that. It was a noble decision that said a lot about Adara to him. In those last few moments before he killed her, he was sure she was heartless. Now, he realized he truly didn't understand Adara or the way she saw the world. She had loved these people like family. The death of Megan, someone she'd grown close to over a period of months, was probably just as hard for Adara as it had been for Brand. More and more he regretted his devastating decision. More and more he wished he could take it back. He would live with it. As hard and painful as that might be he had no choice now. He'd taken the life of a truly great person.

It made him realize he didn't really know anyone. He was a powerful weapon now. Destiny was in the palm of his hand and he alone could force the abrupt end of someone's future before it was time. He vowed then and there to never take such a decision lightly. If he were forced to kill again, he would make sure it was the right thing to do.

***

"You little bitch!"

Chrava continued to look over the city from the top of the building. More than a few of the buildings had been damaged in the earthquake, but that didn't concern her much. She just found it peaceful here. It was away from all those minds and she could actually think to herself. She knew Zadara would find her eventually. She was actually surprised it took her this long.

"There's a new Wielder and you didn't tell me! Not only that, Adara has been killed. What's your problem? It's your job to tell me this shit!"

Zadara's hand came down hard on Chrava's shoulder and spun her around. Then Chrava found Zadara's hand on her throat and she let out gasp of surprise. "Just because you finally woke up to reality and saw things for what they really are doesn't give you the right to fuck around with things. You got that, little girl? You do your job or you'll be useless to me and I'll personally kill you."

Chrava fought back the tears of pain, rage, and hurt. When Zadara let go of her throat, she struggled for a breath, then sighed deeply. "I'm sorry," Chrava muttered. "It's Brand. He's the new Wielder."

Zadara's look of surprise caught Chrava by surprise. It was a rare day when Zadara was actually in shock. "He's the chosen one. Shit. And he's killed Adara. Things are moving too damn fast! What the hell brought all this on?"

"You're order of death on Megan," Chrava said. "I'd wager that might have pissed Brand off a little bit."

"Shut it!"

"You shut it!" Chrava screamed. "I didn't even want to kill her but I did it for you because I loved you. And this is how you repay me? Threatening to kill me? Screwing other people?"

Zadara rolled her eyes. "Please! You wouldn't know love if it bit you in the ass. Actually, you probably confused me biting you in the ass for love. Anyway, don't get all holy on me now. That bitch Adara is dead, I don't need you to try and replace her in the holy-factor. You had your chance with her. I seem to recall you came to me."

Chrava was sick of Zadara throwing that in her face. Yes, she came to Zadara. But now she was beginning to regret that decision more and more.

"If I were you, little girl," Zadara said with a sneer, "I'd strongly advise you to watch yourself. You wouldn't want to end up like your parents, would you?"

"I hate you!" Chrava screamed. She started to run for the stairway, but Zadara grabbed her arm.

"You're only seventeen, Chrava. I have wonderful plans for you. Don't forget why you came to me in the first place. Those reasons will always be valid, no matter what anyone tells you. Don't forget who your real friends are. I may not live up to some ideal lover scenario you had planned out in that pretty fucked-up little head of yours, but I am the only friend you'll ever want."

When Zadara let go, Chrava bolted for the stairs. She was disgusted by Zadara's touch now. Zadara's words, however, wouldn't leave her for a long time to come. There was a lot at stake and things were about to get rough quickly. Chrava knew Brand was on the warpath and she saw Buba and Brand reconnecting. There was too much going on to just throw caution into the wind. She had to tread carefully. These next few months were going to be pivotal.

***

In the cool evening air, Brand stood upon the edge of the canyon and looked down at the raging river below. Megan had told him in this very spot that she'd like to be buried here. She sort of predicted her own death in a way, it seemed to Brand.

As the day dimmed, the setting sun sending a cascading display of brilliantly unnatural colors across the sky, Brand closed his eyes and said a final goodbye to Megan. Then he tossed the ashes over the edge of the canyon and watched as the last remaining life of Megan scattered and flowed away.

Never before had he loved someone like her and never again would he even begin to find that kind of love for another. She was the kind of woman that could change a man for the better without him even knowing it. Now as he looked back at their life together, he could find the clues. He could see her carefully altering the way he looked at things and he loved her even more for it. She'd made him a better person in her own ways much like Buba had. He'd grown from the two-bit street thug to the man he is today, while still not perfect, far better than he was when he first met Megan.

As the ashes disappeared into nature, Brand turned and walked back toward camp. His thoughts drifted over his life with Megan and for a while, he was happily lost in the endless play of 'what once was'. For a while, at least, but he kept coming to the 'but would never be again' and the aching grief once more took over.

To be continued...
Article © Josh Brown. All rights reserved.
Published on 2003-02-17
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